COVID-19: Court Updates


27 January 2021: QR code systems being introduced in Court buildings

As restrictions on public gatherings and businesses ease around Australia, state and territory jurisdictions have issued directions requiring businesses to maintain contact registers to enable health authorities to quickly identify and contact persons that may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The Court recognises the importance of contact tracing and early identification in the event of a COVID-19 exposure and the critical need to support all tracing processes.

To this end, a QR Code system and manual registers are being introduced as a means of registering public attendance in Court buildings. The registration and use of QR Codes are voluntary.

The QR Code systems chosen by the Court are those operated by the state and territory governments to ensure privacy concerns are addressed and will be used in every state and territory except Queensland which does not currently operate a government managed QR Code system.

11 January 2021: Queens Square, Sydney and Queensland Registry - No face-to-face services

There will be no face-to-face services at the Queens Square counter until Wednesday, 27 January 2021, unless otherwise approved by the Head of Jurisdiction. 

There will be no face-to-face services at the Brisbane counter, until Friday, 22 January 2021, unless otherwise approved by the Head of Jurisdiction.

We are still open to support litigants and the profession through a range of online and phone services and subpoena appointments will continue in a COVIDSafe manner.

These precautionary measures will assist to reduce the need to travel for New South Wales and Brisbane residents. Developments will be monitored and arrangements may change at short notice based on Government health advice and restrictions. 

23 December 2020: Queens Square, Sydney 

COVID-19 Precautionary measures: Online and telephony services only

There will be no face-to-face services in Queen Square Sydney, unless otherwise approved by the Head of Jurisdiction, until Monday 11 January 2021.

Skeleton staff will be available for urgent in-person subpoena inspection that cannot be rescheduled. Any appointments that proceed will require the name, phone number and postcode of those attending recorded.

Other than public holidays, we are still open to support litigants and the profession through a range of online and phone services.

These precautionary measures will assist to reduce the need to travel and leave home for Sydney residents. Developments in NSW will be monitored and arrangements may change at short notice based on NSW Government health advice and restrictions.

7 April 2020:

2 April 2020:

31 March 2020: Special Measures Information Note - Updated

The Special Measures in Response to COVID-19 (SMIN-1) Information Note (pdf, 239 kb) has been updated.

23 March 2020: Our counters are closed, but we're still working

Following the developments in the COVID-19 situation, and the need to protect our staff and all visitors to our buildings, we have decided to close our public facing counters and cease face-to face services from Tuesday 24 March 2020.

While the counters are closed, we are still working in registries and remotely to provide services and support practitioners and litigants via phone and other online services.

In urgent circumstances, face-to-face services may be provided after initial assessment via telephone.

You can contact us on the following number: 1300 720 980

This has been a difficult decision but one that is 100% focussed on the safety and wellbeing of our staff, court users and the community. 

23 March 2020: Special Measures Information Note 

The Chief Justice has issued a Special Measures Information Note in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Information Note can be accessed from the Practice Notes page.

18 March 2020

Further to the update posted yesterday, the Federal Court of Australia has now commenced communicating with all parties with matters listed for hearing in the upcoming months.

Parties have been requested to identify (with the assistance of the Court) opportunities by which listings may proceed either by way of telephone conference or other remote access technology. The Court is working to ensure that as many listings as possible are able to proceed. Matters may be able to keep the same date; they may not. They may be able to be done on the papers. These decisions will be based on information from litigants and considerations of workload and judicial availability.

To the extent that matters listed in the 4 – 29 May 2020 Full Court and Appellate sitting period are impacted by this approach, the Court will be in contact with the relevant parties over the next week.

The Court is not shutting down or vacating cases simpliciter. It is adjourning hearings in court so that the Court's workload can be managed safely and without interruption. The Court is trying to remain consistently operational by minimising the risk of closures, with all the attendant cost and inconvenience that would cause, in particular to parties and practitioners.

The first priority of the Court is the safety of litigants, practitioners and its judges and staff. The measures being adopted are intended to ensure that the Court remains open and functioning Court for litigants in this challenging period. This includes ensuring the necessary technology is in place to enable as many matters as possible to progress in a timely and effective way.

There will no doubt be some inconvenience for hearings that were scheduled in the coming weeks. The Court is seeking the co-operation of all parties and their representatives in working collaboratively to ensure the Court continues to be able to provide a safe, efficient and flexible service for parties over the coming months.

17 March 2020

This information supersedes all previous updates provided by the Court.

In light of the recent developments that led to the closure of the Lionel Bowen building in Sydney, the Federal Court of Australia is taking steps to reduce the risk to court users and court staff from in person attendance in court buildings, commencing Wednesday, 18 March 2020.

Unless specifically and individually excepted by the Court, all Federal Court of Australia listings that require in person attendance, including mediations and listings relying on video link from court premises listed up to 30 June 2020, are vacated. The Court is examining, as a matter of urgency, its capability to facilitate listings by remote access technology, without requiring in person attendance. Further information will be provided as soon as possible of alternative arrangements that may be able to be put in place.

In the meantime, parties with listed hearings up to 30 June 2020 will be contacted by the Court directly about the need for the matter to proceed and possible options for achieving that where appropriate.

The decision as to whether the listing will proceed in the short term and, if so, when and in what manner, will be made by the relevant judge or registrar in consultation with the Chief Justice.

Court users should closely monitor the Daily Court Lists to check which listings are proposed to proceed.

16 March 2020

The Court has been monitoring the Government's announcements and advice concerning COVID-19 and its management, to ensure that arrangements are in place to mitigate any adverse impacts on our people and operations.

The Court is following the advice of the Commonwealth to focus on the minimisation of the spread of the virus in the community.

All people arriving in Australia from overseas are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

  • Australian citizens and permanent residents and their immediate family members need to stay at home for 14 days.
  • Foreign nationals must self-quarantine in a home or hotel for 14 days after entering Australia.
  • Restrictions apply to foreign travellers from mainland ChinaIranRepublic of Korea and Italy.

If you develop any symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, tiredness or shortness of breath) you should see a doctor for urgent assessment.

If the above applies and you have a matter before the Court or need to visit a court registry, please phone the National Enquiry Centre on 1300 352 000.

Information for Practitioners 

If practitioners are involved in current proceedings before the Court that are impacted by COVID-19, they are encouraged to direct enquiries for assistance, such as necessary adjournments, variations to timetables or preparation for hearings, to the following Court representative:
Tuan Van Le
National Judicial Registrar
Phone: (03) 8600 3343